Saturday, March 31, 2018

31 Day Writing Streak

Today completes my 31st and final day of the slice of life daily blogging challenge for 2018.  In my seventh year of doing this, I was able to write each and every day.  I also committed to commenting on more than 3 people each day and accomplished it.  Setting a writing plan initially and continuing to have a topic focus for certain days of the week helped.  I still ran into those days where just the thought of the obligation to write filled me with dread and I dragged my fingers to the keyboard.  

I don’t have the writing fatigue/malaise that I have had in the past. I want to keep going forward just not every day. I’ve embedded a survey to have you help me sort thru where my writing should go next. I have some ideas. I’d still rather read than write. I’d rather workout than write. I do realize that I have quite a collection of writing after 7 years of posting, 310 published here to be exact.

Thanks you to the teacher-leaders at Two Writing Teachers, especially Stacey, for supporting all the teachers and students world-wide who participate each year.  Thanks again for each of you who stopped by.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Food for Thought: Tacos

Fly Fish Taco from the Taco Shack
The number of taco joints and taco offerings on restaurant menus have grown exponentially. It's just not about Taco Tuesday anymore.  My husband is a sucker for a fish taco which at once hard to find now seems to be ubiquitous. He fell in love with them about 20 years ago in San Diego.  I won't always fall for the taco, but there are a few place worth checking out in the central Florida area.  All of these aren't fancy places, but the food is sure to rock your palate! There also all budget friendly.

Where has this sauce
been all my life?
3.  Tako Cheena:  Asian-Latin fusion here.   Although there are other items on the menu, I've only had the tacos here.  Some of the tacos can be made vegan or veggie for that special someone in your life.  (I made the mistake of taking my vegetarian daughter to Orlando Meats for lunch last week.  I still haven't recovered from the trauma.)  What I like most about the tacos here are the flavors hailing from all over Asia--China, Japan,Thai, Korean, Indian Curry...etc. They are unique and done well. My favorite is the panko crusted cod.

2.  Gringos Locos  You can fulfill your taco hunger until 3 am here.  Honestly that's not an hour I see unless I am getting up that early and frankly its too early for breakfast tacos for me. I prefer going to lunch here. I do love their more traditional offerings, but what makes them a stand out is the crispness of their tortillas of a crisp taco.  Also their meats-roasted pork and chicken are simply well made. Their salsas are amazing too. Although there are fish tacos on the menu, I went for the beef tacos and was full-filled!

1. The Taco Shack  It is literally a shack on the side of  the road in New Smyrna Beach. It is just the kind of place that you want to drop by on your way home from the beach.  There are some Puerto Rican influences here with Mofongo and Pastelon on the menu.   I enjoyed the Fly Fish taco.  What stood out for me were the chips. I haven't tasted any as good as these anywhere.  I try to avoid them, but they were well worth it..  I also ordered an empanadas.  I am a sucker for most hand pies from sweet to savoring and most cultures have some derivative of them.  These empanadas did not disappoint.  They even reheated well the next day. My vegetarian found plenty to eat from the menu here too.

Where is your favorite taco place?

Thursday, March 29, 2018

CG from A2Z

I've blogged about my workout community before, Camp Gladiator.  I've been a member of this bootcamp for almost six years.  I could add a lot more to each letter.  It keeps my head straight after a tough day at work. It keeps my blood sugars in range as well as other health numbers. Also I love the people, my trainers and my cg buddies! It is truly a mainstay in my life and has been able to accommodate an aging athlete.  I am inching closer to my 500th check-in, but initially there was no check-in process so I know that I am well above 500 hours of time!

Anklers & Arnold Press
Burpees & Bear Crawls
Cardio & Core
Deadlifts & Drained
Endurance & Exercise
Family & Fitness
Games & Goblet Squats & Gains
High Fives & Happy Sweaty Faces
Intensity & Inchworms
Jump Jacks & Judge-free Zone
Lunges & Lateral Leaps
Monster Walks & Mountain Climbers
Nature & Nuture
Obstacles & Obliques
Push Press & Planks
Quivering & Quaking & Quick Feet
Reverse Crunch & Russian Twists
Strength & Sumo Squats & Sally
Tires & Tired
Upright Rows &
V-UPs & Victory
X-hausted & X-hilarted
Y-Raises & Yoga
Zig-Zag Sandbell Run & Zone

I'm sure my CG-Family & trainers near and far can add more to each letter!  What's your favorite exercise?

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Eye-Spy: Flowers & Bunnies

1.  While playing disc golf at Turkey Lake Park, we spied this gorgeous cypress stump.    I could have crawled inside if I wanted muddy shoes.  I am sure it was a portal to somewhere.

2. The bunnies were out in full force last Sunday.  Perhaps they were getting their cardio for this weekend.  One was still enough to capture a photo.    . 

3.  The hibiscus at our Starbucks stop.  We indulged over spring break in coffee and flowers. 

4.  A welcome return to school with the student-tended planter in full bloom.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Where I'm From

Tonight's post is from one of my favorite writing activities from using Georgia Ella Lyon's poem Where I'm From as a mentor text. I love to use it with students as a get-to-know you or talk to your parents to find these details out activity. I bet there are details here that many of you who know me, don't even know.

I am from running shoes,  
from Ivory and ice cream.
I am from the brown brick home with solar panels on the roof  reflecting silver into in the sky.
I am from the old oak trees,
the pink, red, and white azaleas flowering in the spring.
I am from evenings of playing High, Low, Jack and boisterous laughter,
from my dad, Jack,
and Mckenna, Burke
and Salata.
I am from the big mouths and loud talkers
and voracious readers.
From having kidneys behind my eyes --- me, a big crybaby,
and being able to take care of yourself--- a most important virtue.
I am from St. Margaret's Episcopal Church on Old Church Road in Hibernia on Fleming Island off an oak-lined dirt road.
I'm from Jacksonville, FL, Ireland and Slovenia, sauerkraut, black licorice and cheesy potatoes.
From the Irish immigrants who shipwrecked on Nova Scotia before laying roots in Rhode Island,
the tea shop that my great great great aunties owned,
and the dinner dates at Georges where my parents' shared clam cakes and steamers.

I am from a family of scrapbookers--- black and white yellowed paper to digital images--- stories brought to life by my daughter's questions.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Professional Reading Plans

Several books are coming out this spring that I am looking forward to reading to improve my craft.

3.  Penny Kittle & Kelly Gallagher's 180 Day's   I loved Kittle's Book Love, and Gallagher's Readicide  Both are part of my learning about the teaching of reading lineage.  This superstar combo spent a year working on this book. I can't wait to see what they share about what they learned after collaborating the entire school year. What I love is that this book documents their teacher year.  Teaching follows a narrative arc of its own.  This book is en route as we speak. If you want to be my reading buddy with it, let me know.

2.  There has been so much dialogue about teaching a whole class novel to students over the past three to five years.  I've been struggling with this, because I do believe in the shared communal experience of reading a book together as a class.  I remember when we all cried in 9th grade when Nancy died in It Happened to Nancy.  This wasn't the only book that moved us to be curious, to care, and to see beyond our world view.  I've used whole class novels with concurrent lit circles and independent reading where students where juggling 3 texts at a time.  I think it is possible to do a whole class novel well.  It become tricky when a teacher drags students through a text over a long long period of time.  My students read many many many books on their own over a total 500 for a collective of  about 75 students in one year.  How do we carve space for choice and student interest, challenge and side-by-side practice?  Kate Robert's explore this in her book  A Novel Approach. Also en route to me.

1.   Jennifer Fletcher's forthcoming book, Teaching Literature Rhetorically will be released in June. So this will be a little summer reading for me.  I love her Teaching Arguments book and used it with all of our teachers and my preservice teachers. It was a great next text to read after Hillock's Teaching Argument Writing.  I keep revisiting both of them along with Gallagher's Teaching Adolescent Writers.

What are you looking forward to reading professionally?  

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Sunday Seven`

Taking time to reflect on the goodness of the week. 

7.  Late nights and sleeping in.

6. All the dust bunnies have disappeared after three days of deep spring cleaning and my daughter's room stayed officially clean for more than 24 hours.

5. A morning round of frisbee golf with friends.

4. Achieving all but one of my spring break goals

3. Being able to walk side-by-side with my daughter and her middle school friend as well as my colleagues for the March for Our Lives. I hope we never have to take those steps again.  It was amazing to take to the streets of Orlando with some many teachers, parents, grandparents and kids, all the people.  I love that I live in a country where I can exercise my rights  and was thankful for the Orlando Police for ensuring we had safe conduct thru the streets.  The speakers were courageous and the energy contagious. Let's take it to the polls in November.

2. My mini-spring break adventure with my family.

1.  Florida breezy sunshiny spring days with cool leave your window open nights.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Spring Into Saturday: NSB

Not up for a long long trip?  New Smyrna Beach and the surrounding area provide a little Florida history and sunshine without the St. Augustine crowds and its only an hour away from Orlando. 

1. Sugar Mill Ruins- This stop is free.  It is great for a picnic lunch or spending time sketching.  This 17th century site is shaded by live oaks and is a quiet park that you will miss because it is truly off the beaten path.  The walls left standing are coquina.  Sugar has long been an industry in Florida.  This archaeological site gives insight into the processing of sugar cane long before the modern age.

2. Ponce Inlet Light House At $6.95 a person, this site will provide a thorough overview of the history of Florida from the Paleoindians to modern times.  This lighthouse is over 125 years old and the tallest in the Florida.  The craftsmanship of the prisms to reflect and amplify light are amazing. It is science, math and art.  You will get your cardio with the 227 steps up the light house, but there are 13 other buildings to explore including an area of rafts that Cubans fleeing their country used to come to Florida. Every time one washes to shore, they add it to their collection.

3.  End your day at Lighthouse Point Park.  You can enjoy a walk out onto the jetty.  One side is ideal for people who like to fish while the oceanside is ideal for surfers and sunbathers.

Finish up your afternoon with amazing food from The Taco Shack or The Garlic.  Next Friday, I will tell you more about The Taco Shack.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Food For Thought: Fresh Meat

My Breakfast Burger &
 my companion's Blarney Stone 
I found myself with an hour to kill between appointments yesterday morning and decided to try a new place that has been on my list for a while. I thought I would get my post up earlier since it isn't too late to make breakfast or lunch plans today and yes, I mean today.  When my friend told me about this place, I thought cool a local meat market that's close by.  All the good ones in the central Florida area seem to be so far away, Petty's Meats in Longwood and Cavallari Gourmet in Oviedo.  Well, Orlando Meats has been worth the wait. Not only does this butcher shop have locally sourced meat, it serves an amazing breakfast  and lunch. 

With all the men in the back of the shop it reminded me of a scene or two from Cleaving by Julie Powell of Julia and Julie fame.  A good book to check out if you are interested in butchering, both of a marriage and the profession.  She isn't very likable in this book, but it does provide insight into butchering as a profession.  But I digress.

Having restaurant service in this meat shoppe, means that you can literally have your meat and eat it too.  You can pick up some locally sourced meat or their in-house sauerkraut or kimchi and enjoy breakfast and lunch.  I had the Breakfast Burger. I like to call the time after my quarterly doctor's visit my "cheat window."  Some people take them once a week, I try to selectively my window after my bloodwork and subsequent doctor's appointment. 

The Breakfast Burger was worth the "cheat."  Served medium rare it was by far the best burger that I have eaten in the Central Florida area and beyond. It came with bacon xo, a magic mystical delicious meat sauce condiment.  A scrambled egg with white cheddar and garlic aoli also topped the burger.  It needed nothing else as the meat was fresh and seasoned with salt and pepper to perfection. The burger was served on French bread rather than a traditional bun. It was ideal. Often I discard the buns on burgers as they are too flimsy to withstand the meat juice and dissolve into mushiness.  The porous French bread stood up to the task.  In the end the burger was too much to finish and I was glad I had a friend to share it with. 

My companion had the Blarney Stone which was another breakfast sandwich on the menu. I was delighted when she picked this since it was my 2nd choice.  The lure of sauerkraut and corned beef drew me in.  She let me try it. I love the purple cabbage sauerkraut that they made.  I was a little off-put that the corned beef was served cold but it was tender and flavorful.  I want my breakfast warm. It too was too larger to finish, but we left feeling full and ready to wrangle the rest of our Spring Break day,

My only regret is that I didn't have any of the chips. My breakfast came with what my companion described as the fluffiest home fries. I didn't put any ketchup on them as they were seasoned perfectly and so fresh. I found out later though that I could have gotten a side of chips with my breakfast. Those who know me well, know that chips are my Achilles heel. While we waited and ate, I watched the "chip" man prepare the tallow chips for lunch.  I will be back for lunch sooner than later, especially as my cheat window is closing fast. I am planning a lunch date there with my husband as I write. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018


Part of my routine is a quarterly doctor's visit and blood-work, which I had today.  Routine is one thing that my chronic disease responds well too.  The routine of exercise.  The routine of meals. The routine of calm.  What also improves the quality of my life is to look for patterns.  Looking at the data and taking note of where the data does not reveal what is happening is a crucial step.  I work with my practitioner   The more routine I can make my life, the better we are able to look for patterns and make treatment decisions.

I like my routines but spring break is also a great time to let go of some of those routines. Some of the routines that I've let go this week where sleeping in, vacuuming for what my daughter describes as hours for hour, and staying up super late watching movies. Only one more day of spring break play. Then back to the routine. Enjoy the flowers that I saw when I strayed from my routine today.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


 1. Normally I post images from nature, but I know that with the extreme weather conditions up North this new post-it, Extreme Notes, is especially exciting!  For rough, wet hot, or cold times that you have to use your post-its, you finally can make the write choice.  It is almost as exciting as the Post-it Treasure Chest I purchase each year.  Extreme Post-its are for the wild. I did refrain from this purchase, but have it on my post-it wish list.

2. I am not sure what type of flowers these are, but the spotted-insides are what drew my eye.  Enjoy Florida spring. I always love the intensity of the flowers up North in the summer, but I do appreciate the flowers of spring in Florida.  These were in a container garden at Lake Eola Park.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Spring Cleaning

The pile of books that were culled & organized.
  Today is one of those days where my attitude toward writing is worse than my attitude toward working out.  I work out every day and look forward to it. Some nights I have been dragging my feet to the keyboard and then get into it. Today, however, is not one of those days.  Right now I am on a 20 day writing streak and intend to finish this post, but I don't have much to say.

Jinx enjoying the freshly-mad bed.
I knew that the worst weather days of spring break would be Monday and today. Therefore I planned to stay in both days.  Yesterday my daughter and I binge-watched Reign. There was actually a hailstorm today so I spent most of the day spring cleaning.  I now have two bags of books to go to my daughter's middle school library and two bins of books to go to mine.  All the dust that was hiding in the corners is gone.  Most of the laundry is done.  My bed is actually made.  There a bags of clothes to be donated.  A few more larger tasks on my to-do for tomorrow and as the weather clears up and spring takes charge again, I will go on a few adventures.

Monday, March 19, 2018

What I am Planning to Read!

I have shared my love of series before. I have 5 books up next in the series that I have started. I like to just read and wait for the next one to come up. It's like I have a present in the future for me.. Several next books are coming out in May so I have to get the following five books that I have been hoarding read over spring break. I hoard them because I like to savor the series and linger with the characters rather than read through greedily as I have been known to do.

The Book of Dust by Phillip Pullman is the 1st in a companion trilogy to The Dark Materials trilogy.  I feel in love with The Golden Compass years ago and it was a summer reading option for my students.   I liked to introduce my students to series since they can keep reading.  I think this was overshadowed by the Harry Potter series. 

Hollow City and The Library of Souls are the 2nd and 3rd  books in the Miss Peregrine Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and are waiting for me.  I love how he has used vernacular photographs as inspiration to craft this trilogy. I've avoided the movie, but have been enjoying listening to the series with my daughter which is why I still have it in my pile.

I do love books that explore deathThunderhead is the sequel to one of my favorite books that I read last spring, Neal Shusterman's Scythe.  Thunderhead continues the story of Citra and Rowan as the Scythes continue to be the arbitrators of death in this world where the Thunderhead runs everything except the culling.  What havoc will Rowan wreck and what change will Citra be able to make on the inside? Once I finish this, another one will be

Libba Bray's The Diviner's and the next book, The Lair of Dreams, chronicle Evie and her adventures in the twenties in New York city.  She is a seer and has been a key in solving mystery of the serial killer who has been haunting NYC.  If you liked her series, A Great and Terrible Beauty, you will also enjoy this one.

Laini Taylor Daughter of Smoke & Bones trilogy culminates with Dreams of Gods & Monsters. I have had this on my shelf for awhile since I don't won't to let the characters go.  I also have another book by her waiting on my shelf, Strange the Dreamer.

What's in your TBR?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday Seven

Focusing on the goodness of the week! 

7. My succulent garden.  Thriving in full sun and only watering once a month. 

6.  Yoga in Lake Eola Park A focus on calm and stretching today with my daughter, husband and friends. Namaste!

5. A day spent wandering to my husband's favorite St. Pete haunts, the Emerald City comic shop, Trip's Diner and Out of the Closet, a thrift store; then my turn, a beach afternoon at Fort DeSoto with my mom, sister, nephews, daughter and husband.

4. A jar of St. Pete Ferments sauerkraut in my fridge. I am the only one who likes it in my house. I don't have to share and I could profess that it is good for me. I will eat it every night this week. Thanks to my sister for procuring my jar.

3. Working in a supportive district and school where we could walkout as staff and students together side-by-side on Wednesday.

2. My ELA\Reading team persevering through testing season and keeping their eye toward what matters for kids. We made it through the 3rd nine weeks!  75% of the way there. 

1. Five days off next week aka Spring Break.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Spring Into Saturday: Local Parks

Sometimes you don't need a long drive to enjoy the outdoors.  Spring is possibly the best time to enjoy local gardens in Orlando. For both of these adventures, bring a picnic lunch.

1. Harry P. Leu Gardens  What I like most about this green space in Winter Park is that it is not "manicured."  Live oaks shade the azaleas and fall leaves crunch under your feet as you explore the boundaries of this park.  There is a wildness to this city bound park that I don't find it other local parks in Orlando.

2. Dickson Azalea Park   This park has haunting trails within the bounds of its lush green space.  There is a cool bridge too.  I like to bring a book to linger in the hush of this urban park.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Food for Thought: Donuts

Vanilla Glazed, Birthday Cake, Cinnamon Sugar
Salted Caramel Coconut, Strawberry-Banana, Nutella
Donuts were always a random treat in my house growing up.  We lived at least a half hour from civilization.  Sometimes when we would walk up in the morning, our dad would have left us a dozen donuts.  I don't love donuts, because I love a savory breakfast with eggs, but I can appreciate the bite of a donut now and again.  There are some amazing donut places popping up all over town. I haven't gone seeking those donuts out, they have instead found me. It is spring break next week so those of you in Orange County should treat yourself if you are up early and start your adventure by sharing one of these.

1.  DG Donuts  These donuts are in a Chevron station out in west Orlando in a community called Oakland.  A co-worker brought the six donuts in the picture above to work last Friday.  I wish I had put something next to them so you could see their size.  These six donuts probably add up to dozen. These are the ones that you share.  Cut them in fourths or eights and you have a nice bite. You have to go early or they will be sold out.  I suggest that you stop there on your way out to pick blueberries.

2.  Glass Knife  When my friend got married last week, they had donuts from here rather than cake.  They were scrumptious.  Possibly as good as this lemon meringue donut was the apple fritter. I don't even like apple fritters, but I can see why someone would after trying it.  We also tried a creme brulee donut.   My husband indulged in the peanut butter chocolate.You can head to this new Winter Park bakery for lunch and take some donuts home for the next day.

1. Donut King  There are three locations in the central Florida area.  Again a coworker brought these to share.  I love the bacon maple frosted and the key lime here.

NOTE:   Krispy Kreme  Nothing beats a hot fresh and now as the glowing red sign boasts in times of desperation.  I could spend hours wend their way down the glazing machine. Tomorrow they are going green.

I like to wash them down with a glass of cold cold milk never coffee.  What do you like to indulge in for a breakfast treat?